Friday, 30 December 2011

Looking Back Over 2011

A brief review at what we've been up to:

To say it has been a busy year would be an understatement, we have literally been run off our feet helping dogs, owners and caring for our own residents throughout the year.
We have this year been in a situation where we just jump from one job to the next, with no spare time to share the news or add an update to our web site, blog or email updates.
Our main web site was updated at the beginning of the year; we have over the past four years added quite a large amount of information to the various divisions including our monthly news updates, dog law and responsible dog ownership sections.
We had to leave the site as it stood this year with its information and haven’t updated the rescue, news & events sections as our software, an old version of Dreamweaver, just gave up on us in the end! Thankfully we now have a late new copy of web editor Dreamweaver and are in the process of getting to grips with it, so we’ll be able to not only update our site but continue to make improvements and add much requested information & campaign news for all.
Whilst the main site (and editing volunteer) took a rest, we were busy creating a sparkly new blog which was launched in July – you can read this year’s posts and subscribe to updates here –
Earlier this year we lost our main email account but with some great technical help we have re-instated and all our original email addresses are receiving & sending just fine, we have also properly backed-up our work files!
Dog world is generally in pretty appalling shape, with the enormous problems of over-breeding, unwanted dogs, BSL, puppy farming etc. and our telephone helplines have taken a bashing this year, as many dog owners who contact us for advice have no Internet access and rely on a mobile phone to access information. 
We have continued to advise and help owners caught up in legal action, including prohibited dogs as seizure rates have dramatically increased in some areas, also dogs of all shapes and sizes and their owners involved in issues of ‘dangerous dogs and ‘dogs out of control’ i.e. the Dogs Act 1871 &  section three of the Dangerous Dogs Act.

We have worked with several solicitors across the country at the owner’s request & liaised between owner & enforcement agencies.

At the beginning of December we had eighteen on-going cases which we were involved with, covering London, Birmingham,  Merseyside, Manchester, Nottingham, Essex, Berkshire, Devon, Hertfordshire, south Wales & Scotland.

Pictured to the right is one of many seized puppies who have not survived the cruelty that is BSL in this country.

Seized dog 'Amber' a 5yr old pet has just been to court under section 4b of the DDA & ordered exempted bringing much relief to her owner Kerry, she will be home in the New Year returned as an exempted dog.
We have just had the good news that a seized dog in Merseyside (DDA sec1) has been returned to his owner following several weeks of anguish for his owner who came through to us for advice & support "the best Xmas present ever" he said.
Four year old GSD Trevor & his owner were in magistrates court last week under sec 3 of the DDA, he accidentally injured a human hand during a dog fight in the park when being separated,  both dogs were off lead playing and had a disagreement, Trevor is being released home with a control order. His owner said "this is the best news I've ever had and i cant thank you enough for your help over the months to save my dog".
Help for rescue dogs in particular American Bulldogs & Staffie crosses is a weekly relentless issue, we’ve given free behavioural hands on help and rescue & re-homing advice; sometimes the free help we give has enabled a dog to stay with their current owner as issues have been worked out. Every dog which doesn’t need a rescue space helps not only the individual dog but the rescue as all are struggling constantly every day with too many dogs and not enough homes.
For example, in Manchester, Stella a 1yr Corso x AB was in trouble & her family were ringing round looking for a rescue shelter to take her, we helped out with the problems based around a general lack of exercise, improper diet & no basic training. The situation is much improved following several hours of free help over a month and Stella is booked in to be spayed the second week in January.

Another dog Benny, a 10mth Bull Terrier x in Nottingham wasn’t going out anymore as he pulled his owner over, he got bored & frustrated and it all went downhill from there, we managed to turn it around over three weeks and Benny is now much happier and no longer so desperate, the same applies to his family who were willing to try & to learn.

‘Monty’ a 5 month staffie cross was left at a London vets following an operation when another resident dog damaged his back leg during a house fight, the vets contacted us and we found him a rescue space and transported him from the vets to a rescue kennels in November; he was extremely lucky to find a space & has recovered from his injury.

We have also supplied free accurate information and advice on dog laws, proposed changes in law (i.e. the Dog Control Bill which passed its third reading through the Lords in October), campaigns, puppy farming & the sale of sick puppies, animal welfare issues, breed specific law in the UK, canine legal cases, behavioural & training assessments & assistance, long term kennel dogs within other rescues, abandoned & unwanted dogs, housing issues affecting dogs, noise complaints, lost, stolen & found dogs, the list is endless. Every day we answer the telephone, on some days our volunteers have spent hours on the phone trying to help and work out practical answers for sometimes almost impossible situations where a dog or dogs are in desperate need of a solution.

Our email advice service has been very busy all year again, we have dealt with enquiries on all types of topics. We have also been receiving weekly enquiries from dog owners overseas who are researching into moving back to the UK and asking for information on what types of dog are affected by our breed specific legislation. Sadly many families have taken the decision not to move to the UK as they cannot bring their dog with them and refuse to leave a member of their family behind. These types of enquiries are heart-breaking.
We have continued to liaise with animal welfare organisations, charities, canine behaviourists, solicitors, barristers, dog wardens, police officers, local councils and social workers over the course of the year, helping owners and their dogs, providing information and accurate facts when requested.
We've been supplying information and assistance to dogs and their owners since our company was formed over ten years ago & our dedicated volunteers prior to this this from 1992 have been campaigning against draconian BSL and practically helping dogs and their families relentlessly for a gruelling nineteen years.
As you can imagine 19yrs of answering the enquiries and calls for help, supporting people through very stressful legal cases & providing on-going help takes a huge amount of effort to maintain year in year out, we continue to do our best but it hasn’t got any easier, some cases where dogs loose their lives are demoralising to say the least.
This year marked twenty years since the introduction of BSL in the UK, we have marked the anniversary on previous years and this year kept it simple with an article in remembrance we never will forget.
The Index of Exempted Dogs was taken ‘in-house’ by Defra this summer, we spoke with Defra concerning the changes, the compulsory insurance needed by exempted dogs is no longer supplied by Pet Plan, we had a detailed discussion with an alternative insurer-if you need insurance cover contact us as it is vital you renew it on time.
We have over this year encouraged people to write to their own MPs and Defra concerning several animal welfare issues including the Dangerous Dogs Act, puppy farming & electric shock collars/devices. We have printed out over 850 template letters & given these out.
Currently we have fifteen dogs in our care, some are in foster homes, and two will be ready for re-homing in the New Year.
Some of our dogs are ‘long term residents’ and have little chance of moving on to forever homes of their own. We provide a good quality of life, with full veterinary back-up, our vets are fantastic and our dogs actually enjoy their visits!
For those dogs which are kennelled, we have our own individual kennels (six good sized units with one extra as a spare) these are fully insulated and currently being tiled on the inside with heated beds for cold weather and constructed to keep cool in hot weather. The dogs have attached safe & secure covered runs – photos to follow soon, we are very proud of our kennel unit and put a lot of thought and ideas from our own experiences into the design. We also have a small mobile home which we use creating a ‘home from home’ for short term use & canine assessments.
 The initial outlay obviously had to be spent, but we’ve constructed to last and the savings over time will be good especially as boarding costs are on average £10 per day per large dog, so we have no boarding costs at present for our canine residents, some of their food is donated, some is brought as and when needed.
Our volunteers do a great job in all weather, 365 days a year walking, playing, interacting and taking care of our rescues.
We also constructed a wire fenced run – our ‘play den’ for off lead fun and games in a safe environment, it’s a bit on the muddy side at the moment and the dogs do have one heck of an off leash blast around there in all weathers! We’ve just brought some straw to line it out a bit whilst the weather is wet.
One of our long term residents Amy was diagnosed with cancer and given 6 weeks to live, this was a great shock to us as she seemed pretty healthy apart from a small lump in her anal canal which she went under surgery to have removed-the vet couldn’t operate, Amy was stitched back up and we were referred to a specialist in canine cancer.
Amy was examined by the experts and was not given more than a few weeks at most to live, we shall never forget that feeling as we sat there in the clinic and she just looked at us as we cried. After several weeks we managed to get Amy listed on a free drug trial and for the first six weeks we made a weekly trip (2hrs each way) for tests as part of the trial, Amy wasn’t fazed by this; we made the car journeys enjoyable and the veterinary team were fantastic and so very kind to her, we tried everything & with oncology supportive care & monitoring she lived and enjoyed every day for eight months before we finally lost her. The anal tumour reduced in size every week-it was measured as part of the trial and Amy only had two set backs (sickness) which passed with TLC and dietary changes. The cancer eventually spread internally to her regional lymph nodes and then her liver and we reached that dreadful day to say goodbye. We haven’t written about Amy as we’ve been so very upset with losing her, it’s so very difficult to put into words, she was a very special girl, an abuse case who learnt to trust humans again after several years with us. We loved her dearly & all miss her so much.
This year we have transported several dogs to the vets for neutering (London bull-breeds mostly), where owners have come through and agreed to not breed and neuter if helped through the process. It’s been time consuming as our volunteers all have their own jobs, families, animals & bills to pay, but we have managed to fit it in when we can, the over-breeding of dogs is crippling every rescue in the country.
 In September we made a home visit to rescued dog Harvey an American Bulldog who began life locked in a shed & was in a state, following our assessment, Harvey was booked into the vets for neutering, chipping & a much needed dental (some of his teeth were worn flat to the gum) his owner then began basic training with our advice. Harvey is a lucky boy to have such a great new owner.
On 30th October we transported rescued 1yr old AB Belle to the vets (Barnet-north London), she had a rough start in life also and we've helped her owner to make some improvements, we met Belle & carried out a behavioural assessment for free recommending changes. Belle is now a lot happier (as is her new owner who couldn't afford behavioural & training advice) we have introduced dog & owner to clicker training, they are doing great now!
On 6th November we made a home visit to two rescued AB crosses, one of which went through a glass door on fireworks night, the owner read our fireworks advice sheet on line and came through for help, they had been tearing their hair out as the fireworks peaked.
On 17th November we transported rescue rottie Betsy to her vets in Harrow, Middx. Betsy was spayed & chipped, her previous low-life owner had bred from her then dumped her, but she now has a new family who are dedicated.
Earlier in the year, we purchased a printer as we had nothing which worked and were often being asked to post out info sheets and literature.  We then went through our literature which was mostly out of date. We have re-written our original leaflets one at a time and added some pamphlets to what we already had, so far we have the following topics available and intend to add to this list next year:
Neutering Your Dog, Micro-chipping Your Dog, Responsible Dog Ownership, Lost & Found Dogs, Keeping Your Dog Safe (dog theft), Summer /Hot Weather Advice, Fireworks & Dogs, Dog Law Explained-Prohibited Dogs, Dog Law Explained-Section 3 of the DDA, Electric Shock Devices, Dog Law Update Scotland & our latest Seasonal & Cold Weather Advice.
Our new colour poster for the chronic over breeding of American Bulldogs & Bulldog crosses has just been printed out and is placed in 22 pet shops at present.
New legislation (we had submitted our views during the initial public consultation which was launched by Government) affecting dogs was passed and commenced in Scotland; we have researched the changes and written a leaflet to inform dog owners; this is freely available & shall be added to our web site to download also.
As social networking web sites become more popular, you may have noticed that we now have an account on twitter – this year we have updated weekly on here with our ‘tweets’ covering news, campaigns, cases, rescue dogs etc and now have over 2,300 followers.
We have also set up an account on social networking sites MySpace -  and Bebo  -
Northern Ireland amended its dog legislation; we contacted and corresponded with the legal department at DARD over the changes & enforcement dates. We have researched alongside a barrister and written an update on the BSL situation there to hopefully simplify a legally complex situation to help dog owners make sense of it all.
In July we sponsored rescue dog ‘Merlin’ in kennels who was one of several dogs held by the Met. Police & released as not ‘type’. Merlin would love a forever home of his own, to find out more about him and the other dogs he was released with, some of whom are also in need of a good home, please visit for sponsoring and re-homing details.
Also in July we circulated & supported the petition 'Say No to Carmarthenshire Puppy Farm' and we wrote to the Carmarthenshire Council planning committee objecting to a retrospective planning application for 196 dogs. The Council received over 800 objections, planning permission was approved (as expected). Many wrote to their MPs concerning the factory farming of dogs, details of how you can speak out against puppy farming were posted on our blog in August & September.

In August we attended the ‘NO Voice No Choice’ event, organised by DDAWatch and the Company of Animals, with our new stall and display; we had a good day and met some great new people, old friends & amazing dogs too!
We hope to attend more events now we have an updated stall, display & literature organised-thanks to our printer & new software.
We have also urged many to sign petitions to help spread awareness relating to several animal welfare causes as well as the online petition for seized dog Lennox who is held under BSL in NI as legal proceedings as on-going.
Petition details & updates have been posted to our blog & on twitter over the year & previous to this on our main web site.

As we write this brief overview three dogs are in a flat alone with an owner back in hospital & no one there to help, two owners are moving here from overseas (USA & France) and have asked if their much loved pets can come with them-with concerns for our BSL legislation.

One owner has just had their dog returned and it ‘hates wearing a muzzle’ & everyone is upset.
A litter of six accidentally bred 4 day old bull breed puppies have been rejected by their mother and the novice owner has asked for help hand-rearing.
There are four messages for American Bulldogs all urgent.
Two collie x dogs who have been rescued but will not now eat in their new home.
Two cases just gone through court and dogs coming home any day with anxious owners needing advice.
A dog chained in a yard no one will visit, treading in his own excrement with no proper shelter,.
A small dog which has been seriously attacked by another dog running loose.
A disabled lady who is being tormented by a neighbour over her Boxer dog.
A underweight Stafford and about to be homeless owner who has no dog food and there’s no room in any shelter to help and a dog warden with a neglected Bulldog x requesting support and that’s just for starters during the ‘xmas break’.
We would like to thank everyone who has supported us over the past year and especially the volunteers who work so hard to keep the dogs under our care safe and help so many others who rely on us in many situations as their last hope.
We shall keep working away & speaking out for those who have no voice!